We are ready to confront any water crisis: El-Sisi

State-run daily Al-Ahram quoted Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as describing the plant, being built near Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea, as the ‘largest project in history’ of water distillation and sewage treatment. (Reuters)
Updated 09 January 2018
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We are ready to confront any water crisis: El-Sisi

CAIRO: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said he would not allow a water crisis to happen in Egypt, stressing that the authorities are fully prepared to confront any such problem the country may face.
El-Sisi added that he did not want to talk more about the Egyptian preparations. The Egyptian president was most likely referring to a possible shortage of Egypt’s share of water from the Nile if Ethiopia starts storing water behind its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam without reaching an agreement with Egypt on the rules of the operation of both the dam and water.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said during a news conference with his Irish counterpart in Cairo that his country has not received a reply from Ethiopia or Sudan so far to Egypt’s request to involve the World Bank as a neutral party in the stalled negotiations between the three countries on the dam crisis.
Shoukri presented this proposal to the Ethiopian authorities during his visit to Addis Ababa in December last year. “Egypt’s goal is not just to maintain its share of water in the context of the stalled negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan, but to develop ways to exploit this share and to maximize efficiency in exploiting Egypt’s water shares as well,” El-Sisi said as he inaugurated some construction projects on Monday.
El-Sisi announced that three months ago Egypt started the implementation of the largest cost-effective water treatment and desalination project in its history.
He said the cost of this program exceeds 70 billion Egyptian pounds ($3.96 billion). “Water for agriculture and drinking must be secured for all Egyptians.”
He added that the implementation of these mega projects for water treatment “is not for luxury,” rejecting claims that these projects have no direct benefit for citizens. He stressed that “preventing the occurrence of a water crisis comes first in the interest of the citizen.”
The Egyptian president pointed out that desalination plants being established depend on the triple water treatment technology, and that water treated under such technology has no risk on the citizens’ lives.
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said Sudan’s decision to withdraw its ambassador for consultation is fully evaluated by Cairo as taking action against this development.
Shukri stressed that Egypt values its relations with Sudan, but that the direction of relations needs to be corrected so that there will be no negative effects on the peoples of the two nations.


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

Updated 18 August 2018
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.